Islamic Concepts ? Woman and Society

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Islamic Concepts


Woman and Society

Presented by

Al-Balagh Foundation

Title: Woman and Society

Publisher: Al-Balagh Foundation

First Edition: 1420 A.H./2000 A.D.

No. of Copies: 14,000
Distributed free of charge seeking Allah's pleasure.

P. O. Box 1977 / 19395, Tehran, I. R. of Iran.
ISBN 964-402-073-1?????????????

E-Mail: Albalagh @WWW.DCI.CO. IR.

Preface …

The Definition of Society…

Why did Social Life Grow?…

Elements of Building Society…

Biological and Psychological Differences bewteen Man and Woman…

Woman and Material Civilization…

Woman in Islam…

Why is the Attack against Islamic attitude towards Woman…

Woman During the Lifetimes of the Prophets (a.s.)…

Building through Family Relationships…

Woman and Family Economy…

Work and Islamic Law…

The Work of a Wife…

Woman and Political Work…



In the Name of Allah

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Peace and blessings be on Muhammad, his holy family, and the righteous among his companions.

Human society is always in need of woman. For she constitutes half or more of its existence. Whoever considers carefully human history will conclude that woman played an important role even during the most backward historical periods, though this role was hidden in the shade or disappeared from sight.

Modern civilizations have formally underlined the role of the woman and her rights. However, since its coming, Islam has summoned woman to practice her role in life and to shoulder her responsibility in building human civilization.

Allah, the Exalted, said:

"So their Lord did respond to them (saying) `I will not suffer the work of any of you that works to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other,...'" Holy Qur'an (Aal-Imran, 3:195)

Indeed woman was neglected in pre-Islamic era of ignorance `Jahiliyah', and yielded to the manners of dishonor and lowliness. However, in Islam, she has gained her personality and become an example for all believers. Islamic history witnessed eminent women, who played important roles. Among them were Khadija, the mother of believers, and Fatima, the chief of women of the world (a.s.).

Ignorance happened in some Islamic countries in the last centuries as it happened in other countries in the world. Hence, woman in such countries fell short of practicing her leading role in life. Thus, it is important for woman to understand the Islamic concepts concerning her. Accordingly, she will be able to play her role in developing society.

Without doubt, this role is different from that in material societies. For such societies have deprived woman of her dignity and her character. They have used her for a trade and information commodity. Moreover, capitalists and the ambitious ones have used her as a toy to play with. This method removes woman from her womanhood, her motherhood, her high position, and her gentle sentiments. So, she will gain nothing except crime, isolation, despair, violence, and the tragedies of the disorderly family.

Our dear readers, the study before you, acquaints you the role of woman in an Islamic society.

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

Al-Balagh Foundation

The Definition of Society

Society is a human organization which is composed of individuals, and joined with each other through ideological links and limited vital interest. This is the general definition of society. As for the links and relationships in Islamic society, they are grounded in Islam.

Thus, we can define Islamic society as follows: "It is a political group of people residing in a certain area of the earth. It believes in Islam. Its relations and its life regime are based on Islam." Therefore Islamic society is ideological. It has its own qualities that distinguish it from other societies. It is distinguished by its beliefs, its values, its ethics, its laws, its life regulations, its behavior, and its customs.

The Holy Qur'an has summarized these qualities as follows:

"(This is) Allah's coloring and who is better than Allah in colouring; while Him (alone) do we worship."

Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2:138)

Why did Social Life Grow?

The growth of society and social life is among the basic matters which must be scientifically studied. For such a study will help us understand the reason why society and social life grew.

To understand the Islamic theory concerning the growth of society and social life, we must consider carefully the Qur'anic verses that talk about these matters. Meanwhile these Qur'anic verses urge man to build human society based on firm foundations and principles. Among them are:

Allah, the Exalted, said: "O people! Verily We have created you of a male and a female, and made you in nations and tribes, that you may recognise each other; Verily the most honored of you with Allah is the one of you who guards (himself) the most (against evil), ..."

Holy Qur'an (Hujurat, 49: 113)

He said: "And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves, mates that you may dwell (inclined) unto them, and caused between you love and compassion: Verily in this are signs for a people who reflect." Holy Qur'an (Rum, 30:21)

He, the Glorified, said: "What! do they distribute the mercy of your Lord? (It is) We Who did distribute among them (even) their livelihood in the life of this world, and We did raise some of them above the others in rank, so that some of them may take the others in subjection; and the mercy of your Lord is better that whatever they hoard." Holy Qur'an (Zukhruf, 43: 32)

Studing and analyzing these verses show us the reasons why society grew. Among them are:

1. The basic factor for the growth of society is the general natural law of marriage. The instinctive structure of man and woman represents this law. Both, man and woman are the main factors for the growth of social life.

This instinctive relationship between man and woman is based on love and mercy. So, it leads to tranquillity.

For this reason, the Holy Qur'an regards woman as the base of tranquillity. That happens through the psychological and social tranquillity of man and of social life in general. That is because the psychological and the physical relationship between man and woman terminates psychological tension. It also ends the instinctive and psychological energy and leads to the principle of balance between man and woman. For this principle depends on perfection through the general natural marriage law.

Consequently, man and woman must shoulder their responsibility to build a sound righteous society. For they are the source of tranquility, love, affection, and mercy in social life.

2. Acquaintance: The second reason which caused man to build a social life is acquaintance among human beings based on the instinct of social life. Regarding this view, the philosophers said: "Man is social by nature."

Social and psychological experments have shown that man feels tranquility and rest through his social life with others. For this reason Allah, the Most High, said: "So that you may know one another." This phrase shows that there is a human motive behind forming society or social life.

3. Exchanging interests: The third reason for building society, is the exchange of various material interests. Indeed Allah wanted individuals to be perfect through their psychological, bodily, and intellectual abilities. He also wanted this perfection to be achieved through exchanging interests among individuals.

The individual has diverse needs and demands. He cannot secure them all by himself. So, he needs others, and others need him. These differing abilities lead to differing productions and services which the individual offers to others. Concerning the exchange of these productions, interests, and services, which are offered to satisfy needs, the Qur'an says: "...and We did raise some of them above the others in rank, so that some of them may take the others in subjection;"1

Social function has grown on this base. The principle of the functional social growth has also been explained according to this base. Namely, society grows as bodily organs do. Then it carries out its function as bodily organs do.

Thus, the Qur'an explains the material and human reasons for the growth of society. The role of woman becomes prominent clearly and basically through these elements. In other words, woman plays a functional, psychological, and material role in social life. For woman constitutes the greater part in society. The census has shown that the number of females is more than the number of males.

According to the theory of functional perfection, explained by the Holy Qur'an, shows that the role of the woman and the role of man are both studied within the frame of Islamic aims and values. So, woman is not a secondary element nor is she an additional being, though the human experience has shown the role of the man in building science and economy is greater than that of woman. While, the role of woman in building the psychological base of the family is greater than that of the man. The Qur'an expresses this fact by saying: "and from it did He make his mate that he may dwell resting unto her." Hence it is the husband who feels at ease with the wife and is quiet through living with her. So, she is the center of attraction and the frame of tranquillity, affection and love.

The Qur'an talks about `tranquillity' in numerous places. With that, we can understand tranquillity which the wife secures for her husband. We understand that through Allah's words, the Exalted: "And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves, mates that you may dwell (inclined) unto them, and caused between you love and compassion." "...then made He from it its mate,"

We may also understand `tranquillity' in society when we understand the Qur'an's description of the relation between the husband and wife as the relation of `tranquillity, affection, and mercy'.

Therefore, we must study the word tranquillity `sakan' in numerous places in the Qur'an in order to understand its social and family meanings. He, the Exalted, said: "...and has made the night for rest," It means that people become tranquil at night.2 He, the Most High, said: "...and pray for them; verily your prayer is assurance (of peace) for them;" It means that they become tranquil through your prayers and their hearts become quiet through them. Here tranquillity or calmness means sobriety, not losing motion.

"He it is who sends down tranquility into the hearts of the faithful." It means that He has found steadfastness and tranquillity.3 The linguists have explained the meaning of `sakan' or calmness, by saying: "Sakana al-rih, meaning the wind has abated. Sakan al-nafs ba`da al-idtarab, meaning the soul has became tranquil after the disorder. Sakan also means all things with which the soul is intimate, such as the wife, fire(, mercy, blessing, and daily-bread."

"Sakina means tranquillity, stability, sobriety, and dignity."5

With this, we understand the meaning of sakan or tranquillity which the wife provides for her husband and her family. In other words we understand that sakan means rest, stability, sociability, mercy, blessing, and dignity. With this we also understand why the Qur'an has used the word `sakan' with different meanings.

Scientific studies have indicated that man's psychological conditions have effects on his activities in life. It is well-known that the psychological conditions of the man and woman affect their social activities, such as agriculture, industry, trade, teaching, medicine, and the like. Hence, material production decreases when the man leads a life full of family difficulties and psychological tension. Such a man will have no ability to carry out his social duties as good as possible. Meanwhile, he will have tense relations with his work mates. Therefore, the nature of the relations between the man and woman affects the level of production and development.

Moreover, the woman plays a significant role in building society intellectually, materially, and morally, for she brings up and educates her children. The child will have a good character when he leads a life free from anxiety, tension, and family problems. Besides, he will have good relations with others, unlike the child who has a troubled character when he leads a life full of family problems. Such a child may have bad and aggressive behavior. So, corrupt education is the reason for all crimes that occur in society.

The mother contributes as the father does in other fields. She contributes in positive education. She has the ability to make her child love work and to be punctual and to urge him to study hard. Such a child will continue his education and develop his creative abilities. Then he will be a productive element through his experiences and his scientific and practical specialization. However, the child is dependent and lazy when his parents do not take care of him. Such a child will be dependent on others, moreover, there will be many dependent elements that will decrease production and stagnate scientific, economic and social life.

Thus, there is a close relationship between education and development, production, morals, and social life. So, the role of the woman is significant in social building in all fields.

The Elements of Building Society

The relationship between the individuals in social life is like the relationship between the letters of a language. If the letters come together and are well organized, a linguistic structure will happen and convey human thinking and picture all human feelings and life.

Such separate individuals are unable to form a certain society unless they come together and form well-organized ties to regulate their behavior and activities. These ties and relationships are the elements of the building of society. They are as follows:

1. Belief: Belief is regarded as one of the strongest human ties that connect the members of society to each other. It turns them into a unit as firm as one body. The Holy Prophetic tradition says: "You see believers show mercy toward one another, like each other, and feel pity for one another. (They are) like the body. When a part of it (the body) complains, all the body responds to it through (showing) sleeplessness and fever."6

Hence, belief has practical, behavioral, emotional, and psychological reflections and effects on all human links. Their effects begin from building to reform. Moreover, they preserve social structure. So, we find the Holy Qur'an explaining this link, says: "And the believer men and the believer women, they are guardians to one another; they enjoin good and forbid evil..." Holy Qur'an (Tawba, 9:71)

This blessed verse confirms that those who believe in Allah, the Glorified, and His message support each other. It also fixes a psychological and intellectual base, which is the strongest of all the bases of social building. In this concern, the holy verse regards the woman as a basic element in the circle of support. Thus, the woman shoulders the responsibility of social building, change, and reform. In this respect she is equal to the man.

2. Laws and regulations: Law is defined as: "A group of rules that regulate the behavior of individuals in society. General authorities force them to respect law."7

So, social law is a means to regulate the movement of society as natural law regulates the movement of the atom and the stars. Society cannot develop without law.

As for Islamic law, it is concluded from the Qur'an and the purified Sunnah. Hence, Islamic law regulates Islamic society according to Islamic precepts. Meanwhile it takes care of the biological and psychological nature of both man and woman.

According to this scientific principle, Islamic law is divided into three parts. They are as follows:

A. Laws and precepts that concern the woman.

B. Laws and precepts that concern the man.

C. General laws and precepts that concern both the man and the woman. They represent the wider area of Islamic laws and precepts.

This kind of regulation, which takes care of gender, urges both man and woman to move and be active in two areas of movement and activity. The first area concerns their gender. The other includes all society.

3. Islamic traditions and customs: Islamic society has traditions and customs. They are one of the distinguished elements of Islamic society. Hence, they should be preserved.

4. The need of services and exchangeable interests (production): This is clear through this holy verse: "...and We did raise some them above the others in ranks, so that some of them may take the others in sub-jection...". This verse shows that need moves individuals to form society to exchange interests as other creatures do in their natural enviornment. Through that, the individual secures his need and participates in developing human life.

The needs of the individual and society always develop. The man and the woman differ in their administrative, psychological, physical, and intellectual abilities and inclinations. So, functional specialization sometimes occurs spontaneously; it sometimes results from the individual when he chooses his social function, namely the work which he fulfills in society, such as agriculture, medicine, trade, education; the Islamic state sometimes achieves it intentionally, for it is responsible for regulating the abilities of society to satisfy the needs of the individual and to solve the problems that result from all kinds of need.

Now we will briefly discuss woman's role in this respect.

Biological and Psychological Differences between Man and Woman

Psychologists and doctors say that there are axiomatic scientific differences between man and woman. In other words they say that man and woman have different biological and psychological differences. Accordingly, the social function of the woman is different of that of the man. Hence, social life is righteous when man maintains his manhood and woman maintains her womanhood. Scientific studies have shown that the hormones of the ductless glands take part in forming the behavioral and psychological differences between the man and the woman. In the meantime, the nervous system participates in that too.

The Holy Qur'an has explained these differences between man and woman. It says: "And covet not that by which Allah has raised some of you above others; for men shall have of what they earn; and women shall have of what they earn; and ask Allah of His Grace; verily, Allah knows all things." Holy Qur'an (Nisa' 4:32)

Moreover, the purified Prophetic traditions (Sunnah) underline that both man and woman should preserve their gender. It prevents women from imitating men. Meanwhile, it prevents men from imitating women.

Psychological studies and experiments were applied on psychological deviation of both men and women. They have shown that some men try to imitate women, and some women try to imitate men. They have indicated that this state is a kind of deviation, and that this state may be controlled and treated through education, social measures, and reorganization of the character.

The holy traditions have scorned and cursed such people.

The great traditionist and jurist, Hurr Amily, may Allah have mercy on him, has mentioned numerous traditions under the title: "It is not permitted for women to imitate men and vice versa."

It was reported on the authority of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.) and Abu Hassan al-Rida (a.s.), who said: "I hate that men imitate women."8 The meaning of hatred here is prohibition or not permitted as it has been mentioned in the tradition cited above.

It was reported on the authority of Imam al-Sadiq (a.s.), on the authority of Allah's Apostle Muhammad (s.a.w.), who said: "Allah's Apostle scorned the man who imitates women, and prevented the woman who imitates men in her clothes."9

(It was reported) on the authority of Ibn Abbas, who said: "Allah's Apostle (s.a.w.) cursed the men who imitated women and the women who imitated men."10

These differences between man and woman force us to admit that there are functional differences in some of the vital fields and duties which the man and woman should perform.

According to this discussion, we are able to limit the differences between the man and woman in social function.

Woman and Material Civilization

To study the history of nations and societies throughout its ages, shows the sufferings of the woman and how has she exploited and persecuted.????????

No ideology or belief has saved the woman from persecution and sufferings like Divine principles represented in its perfect and prettiest form i.e. the immortal Islamic message.

Before talking about the value, rights and the notable position of the woman in Islam, it is necessary to mention some statistics about the persecution and sufferings of the woman in the material civilization headed by America and Europe that declare the rights of the woman.

The figures and statistics underline that the woman is persecuted and enslaved in these cultures.

French News Agency: "1.3 billion human beings lead a life of abject poverty in the world. 70% of them are women. There are about 2.3 billion illiterate women in the world.

"One-third of the women in Norway, America, Holland and Newsland are subject to sexual exploitation

"Every eight seconds one woman is mistreated. Every six minutes one woman is violated."

The News Agency added: "Half a million women die during pregnancy and its symptoms. 40% of them are young girls.

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